Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Letters to the Editor

February 8, 2014

Farm Bill business as usual

reader point of view

The farm bill is the best example of Washington’s dysfunction, waste and deception. Hoosiers and this Indiana farmer clearly saw that last week when Republicans and Democrats in the House passed a $1 trillion “farm bill” that logrolls separate policies, kills historic reforms and sinks taxpayers further into debt.

For decades, an unholy alliance between food stamps and farm programs has prevented reform and ensured that “must-pass” legislation was moved through Congress with little more than superficial consideration. In true Washington form, Republicans bellowed about wasteful spending in food stamps and Democrats groused about payments to farmers but, in the end, both sides agreed to look the other way and spend more taxpayer money.

Year after year, Hoosiers watched as Washington spent money it never had. But last July when a $1 trillion farm bill, with 80 percent of its spending going to food stamps, came for a vote, I led 61 of my Republican colleagues to defeat business as usual. For the first time in our history, the farm bill failed on the House floor. But because reform takes more than just opposition, I worked to push ahead with common-sense solutions.

Because Congress works best when it works in full view of the American people, I argued, as a farmer, that we should give farm programs and food stamps the separate consideration they deserve. Different policies deserve different votes — it’s as simple as that. It worked.

Hoosier taxpayers got an honest look at how Washington spends their money when we passed the first farm-only farm bill and separate food stamp legislation in nearly 40 years. By working on one program at a time, we were able to make long-lasting reforms that Hoosiers deserve.

I’m proud that the first farm-only farm bill not only eliminated direct payments that manipulate markets but also ended permanent laws that create confusion when Washington stumbles from one manufactured crisis to the next.

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Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

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I think the problems are about the same as always
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